REPORT: Police Launch Investigation After Officer Caught On Video Lighting Cigar While Straddling Handcuffed Suspect

Lisa Moore Contributor
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The St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department (SLMPD) is launching an internal investigation after video footage showed an officer lighting a cigar while straddling a suspect under arrest.

The officer was at Marquee Lounge on Locust Street working a secondary job when staff requested that the suspect be removed from the establishment, River Front Times reports.

“An individual that you have under your power and you’re smoking cigars? That’s saying something,” Rev. Rodrick Burton, Law and Order Chair for the St. Louis Metropolitan Clergy Coalition, told First Alert 4. “When officers make those types of decisions … it communicates with the community that they’re not serious.”

The video, originally posted over the weekend on the Instagram channel Voice of the People News, shows the officer produce a cigar and lighter from his pocket while straddling a suspect lying on his back in handcuffs.

When the officer’s lighter fails to ignite, the officer proceeds to use a lighter another policeman hands him. “He can’t light a cigar so he’s taking it out on me,” the suspect can be heard saying in the video. Both the officer and the suspect appear to be black.

As of May 14, video had received nearly a quarter of a million views on Instagram, River Front Times reports.

Mitch McCoy, the director of SLMPD’s Public Affairs and Information Division, acknowledged the department’s awareness of the video and the purpose of their internal investigation, to determine “what led up to the video and the events that transpired after,” River Front Times reports. (RELATED: REPORT: St. Louis Police Department Suffers Staff Shortage, Reaches Lowest Level Ever)

The suspect was charged with trespassing on private property and resisting arrest, according to First Alert 4.

McCoy confirms that some of the officers on the scene were wearing body cameras, First Alert 4 reports, meaning that the footage can be obtained with a FOIA request.

First Alert 4 cites city Ordinances #62523 and #65991, which prohibit civil service employees from from smoking in public or non-public areas “owned, leased or operated by the City of St. Louis,” but notes that officers smoking on the job is not mentioned.